Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Good help (Delphi programmers) is hard to find

I was just reading a post on Bart Roozendaal's Sevensteps blog titled "Are Delphi programmersa dying breed?".  The title pretty much sums up Bart's point, it's getting harder and harder hire programmers with Delphi experience.  It took a long time for us to find our last two Delphi hires.  Here in Albany, we never had a huge talent pool to pick from, and these days you just can't find the Delphi talent.

Whenever I posted for open positions on the Borland jobs newsgroup, the only responses were from outsourcing companies.  That was something we just didn't want to pursue.  The domain knowledge in getting up to speed with our products can be a little steep, we prefer to keep that knowledge in house and make a long term investment in our development staff.

So where did they all go?  At my last place of employment (nearly 9 years ago), I was on a team of 7 programmers, all using Delphi.  Right after I was hired, we bought by a company that had no use for Delphi and decided that we would be the Java team (minus the tools and the training).  To make a short story long, within 6 months the team all departed to other local companies.  Of that group, I'm the only one still using Delphi.  And I'm not even full time Delphi, it's 50% Delphi and 50% C# (and the Delphi percentage is trending down).

For the other 6, two of them went the Java route, just not at that company.  Another went back to his AS/400 and DB2 roots, the rest bounced around with VB and ASP and eventually ended up in .NET.  I'm betting that's happening to a lot of the Delphi programmers.  A lot of the work out there is for web based applications.  For that market, the Microsoft stack is much stronger than the web based development tools that Delphi provides.

This has to be hitting the companies that still do desktop applications with Delphi pretty hard.  I still think that Delphi is a better choice for desktop applications and services than .NET.  The problem is finding people that still want to work with Delphi.  We are fully staffed now, but it too a long time to get the last two.

Is anyone taking up Delphi anymore?  if you are a fresh new programmer, Delphi probably isn't going to be something you will take up on your own.  I don't know how Embarcadero is going to deal with this.  They just bought a powerful development tool in Delphi, but will they get people to take it up?  Without fresh blood coming in, the Delphi talent pool is going to continue to shrink.


  1. Hey Chris,
    Last June when I was considering leaving CG I did a very unscientific poll of Delphi user groups and found they were few and far between with only remnants of many groups scattered around the web. Unfortunately, the word legacy comes first and foremost to mind, I too wonder what Embarcadero can do to stem the tide.

  2. I'm curious Chris ... what are Delphi's strengths? I've never used it myself. What does it offer that other, up-trending tools/environments/suites/platforms don't also offer? What is it good at?

    Is my ignorance a failure of marketing on the Delphi side?

  3. It's really good for Win32 programming. Almost like a version of C# that did not require a massive .NET Framework installation. The components for doing Desktop applications are lot more polished and efficient in Delphi's VCL as opposed to WinForms. In some ways the IDE is more polished than Visual Studio, but it suffers from being in a much smaller ecosystem.

    Even at it's peak, I doubt that there were more than 4 companies here in Smalbany that had more than a couple of Delphi developers and I worked 3 of them.

    At the next TVUG meeting, I'll show you Delphi 2007 running side by side with VS 2008. You'll see more similarities than differences.

    For years Borland let their developer tools languish as they concentrated their marketing resources on their ALM tools. Unfortunately Steve hit the nail on the head with the term "Legacy".

  4. Hi Chris,

    Just stumbled on your blob while searching for help on Delphi. Just to let you know that I'm a fulltime Delphi developer here in Singapore. I was trained in Delphi, and loved every bit of it.

    It is true and I've notice that it's hard to get Delphi developer here, and companies here are more pro-microsoft based developement tools.

    But I fully intend to stay as a Delphi developer for a long time to come.


    Shah Ping

  5. Hi Chris,

    Just like Sharkman, I stumbled on your blob while searching for Delphi Developer jobs in Singapore. I have been a Delphi programmer for 8 years now. I am currently working for a software company here in our place using Delphi (although I'm the only one who is currently using it. My colleagues are using java). Just like Sharkman, I fully intend to stay as a Delphi developer for a long time.

  6. I'm one of those developers that learned Delphi and loved it's father (Pascal) too. I've studied C but never liked it because of it's insane "flexibility" and ability to "shoot yourself and walk around in the dark" attitude, probably that's why most languages were created, for safety and portability but no programming language/ide combo ever became as robust and elegant as the Delphi IDE/Compiler. I will stay with Delphi as much as i can but i have a lot of hope for FreePascal/Lazarus as the next Best Thing in development and it's Opensource too.
    I sure hope Delphi doesn't die too soon at least not before sharing it's precious knowlege with it's unwanted apprentice LAzarus/FreePascal.


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